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Dog responsible for owner’s death says inquest

A STAFFORDSHIRE Bull Terrier has been blamed for the death of its owner after father-of-four George Dinham, 47, was found slumped on his living room floor with ‘horrific’ face and neck injuries by his brother Fred.

According to a lurid report in the Daily Mirror newspaper two months ago Mr Dinham’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ben was ‘caked’ in his master's blood.

Fred Dinham, who lived with his brother George in Wandle Way, Earlsfield, south London, said: "We can only think he had some sort of fit and scared the dog. There's no way Ben would have gone for him otherwise - he loved that dog and the dog loved him."

Mr Dinham had taken the day off work on May 8th because he did not feel well, Westminster Coroner's Court was told last Tuesday.

But he was found lying dead by his brother Fred when he returned to the flat at 11.45pm.

Pathologist Kenneth Shorrock found Mr Dinham's throat had several deep bites, which severed the main blood vessel to the brain and his windpipe.

The victim's brother told the inquest the dog, Ben, was "perfectly safe" inside the flat, but had to be kept on a lead outside.

Expert police dog handler PC Peter Tallack said the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was a loyal and friendly breed but would have been startled by the fit.

The pathologist told him the human body gives off adrenaline when it goes into shock and dogs' reactions to adrenaline are unpredictable.

Pc Tallack said: "By the adrenaline given off, the dog would go back to its natural instinct and feel threatened. The animal's natural reaction of defence would be to attack."

Police ruled out an intruder attack as the victim's brother found the flat was still triple locked on his return.

Coroner Dr Paul Knapman described as a "terrible tragedy for all concerned".

He said: "It is likely that George Dinham, alone with his dog, had an epileptic fit. Maybe he trapped or startled the dog. His dog attacked him by the throat causing his death. Because of these facts I take the unusual step of recording as a verdict that he died as a result of a violent act by a dog."

Ben has since been destroyed.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson commented: "The death was initially treated as suspicious and the Serious Crime Directorate started an investigation. However a post mortem has shown that the deceased died from a neck injury consistent with a dog bite."